I love French food as much as the next person (maybe more), but sometimes I hanker for a little diversity — after all, I am American and our national cuisine is… every cuisine. Of the many foods I crave (among them: sushi, enchiladas, cheeseburgers, fried rice, and falafel), excellent pizza can be the most difficult to find. Enter Maria Luisa, pizzeria Napoletana, in the 10ème.
Tucked behind the Canal St. Martin — a newishly hip quartier of Paris — this tiny slice of a restaurant is, appropriately, pie-shaped. Seating is a bit mysterious (they seem to offer two seatings, and none in between) but if you arrive at 8pm on the dot, you are pretty much guaranteed a table. If not, you can cool your heels at the café across the street (it’s the café equivalent of a dive bar).
You could start with some antipasti (photo above, 9€50), maybe some salumi, or brine-cured olives, or an arugula salad.
There’s also solid (but not extraordinary) bruschetta (photo above, 9€), which is very good for sharing. Pictured above are (from left to right) marinated artichokes, mozzarella and tomato, and parma ham, but I suspect they change at the chef’s whim. The caprese salad was unremarkable, skippable.
But pizza is the star here, and it’s huge, so our best counsel is to proceed modestly. And oh, that pizza! It’s cooked in a wood-burning oven until the edges are crisp and ever-so-slightly singed. I liked the pizza rucola (12€), a white pizza baked with cheese and cherry tomatoes and then covered with fresh bitter leaves. And I loved the pizza margherita (10€), the crust a marvel of crunch and chew, with the very center of the pie a melty blend of cheese and sauce. CK can’t stop ordering the pizza diavola (photo top, 13€), devilish indeed with its shavings of spicy pepperoni.
I’ve become a recent convert to the calzone napoletana (photo above), stuffed with spinach, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and spicy pepperoni, at once creamy, cheesy and piquant.
There’s always a pizza du jour (photo above), on this day a contrast in tastes and textures, topped with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and parma ham.
Maria Luisa’s wine list is heavily Italian and not terribly note-worthy. We’ve washed our pizza down with a nice, crisp, light bottle of Orvietto (19€) and an unremarkable Chianti.
As for dessert — are you kidding? After all that pizza, we’ve never had room for dessert.
2 rue Marie et Louise
01 44 84 04 01